Before the law, patients were vulnerable to cost-cutting policy cancellations on technical grounds; at least one company targeted women with breast cancer. The law takes steps to end such abusive practices.
Two years ago, insurers could stop covering people who reached lifetime or annual limits. Often, they had no option but to go to emergency rooms for care. The Affordable Care Act eliminated such limits - a huge victory for those with chronic conditions.
Before health-care reform, insurers could raise rates without providing any justification to consumers. Now they must publicly justify any increases of more than 10 percent.
Health-care reform is also transforming our system from one that waits until we're sick to treat us into one that focuses on keeping us healthy in the first place. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses cause 7 of 10 deaths in the United States, and they account for 75 percent of health spending. The law makes prevention of these costly diseases a priority, guaranteeing preventive care without additional out-of-pocket costs. Nearly 2.5 million Pennsylvanians, including more than 580,000 children, got preventive health care without a co-pay last year, according to a federal report.
Overturning health-care reform would mean more uninsured Americans and more costly care. An analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that the share of Americans without insurance would increase from 16 percent to 20 percent by 2020, while health care would grow to consume a fifth of gross domestic product.
Two years after it was signed into law, the Affordable Care Act has significantly expanded Americans' access to quality health care. These important gains stand to be lost if the Supreme Court overturns the law.
Dr. Ouida Brown is a member of the National Physicians Alliance. Jamie Mondics is health-care coordinator for Keystone Progress.